Written By: Joey Esses
When Sean Marks first became the Nets GM, Brooklyn was in a big free fall. 3 years removed from the disastrous Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett trade, the Nets needed a change. They needed their own identity. The roster when Marks took over was mostly filled with NBA hopefuls. They did have a number of notable names on their roster though, such as Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, Joe Johnson and Bojan Bogdanovic.
Now let’s skip to the 2016 draft, when the Nets made a very good trade with the Pacers. They decided to trade away Thaddeus Young to the Pacers in exchange for the 20th pick, Caris LeVert. LeVert was an early season stud for the Nets, averaging 19 points before he got a bad leg injury and started struggling when he returned. However, he looked like he returned to form in the playoffs averaging 21 in the Nets 1st round loss to the 76ers.
In the off-season, the Nets signed a few players. They signed Jeremy Lin, Trevor Booker, Justin Hamilton, Luis Scola, Anthony Bennett and the best of those guys, Joe Harris. Everybody else really did nothing with the Nets. Jeremy Lin was a solid starter for the Nets in his 2 year tenure, but he was very injury prone and everybody else’s stint with the Nets lasted 1 season. Joe Harris has really improved a lot since then. Before, he was just a garbage time player with the Cavs, before getting traded to the Magic and then waived. Last season, Joe Harris showed his talent averaging 14 points on 47% shooting from beyond the arc and winning the 3PT contest and is one of the top 3PT shooters in the NBA.
In December of the 2016-2017 season, a season which the Nets went 20-62, the Nets made another signing of a G-League player, Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie broke out in the 2017-2018 season, and had his best year of his career last season becoming one of the best 6th men in the NBA averaging 17 and 5.
At the trade deadline that year, the Nets made a trade that was key to their rebuild. That trade was sending Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCollough to the Wizards in exchange for Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and a 2017 1st round pick. That trade was basically to dump Nicholson’s contract which had him making 6.5 million for the next 3 years, which is a lot for someone averaging 3 PPG. The Nets got a 1st round pick from that trade as well, which would become a key piece in their rebuild.
At the end of the season, the Nets finished 20-62, worst in the NBA. They won the draft lottery, but had to give their pick to the Celtics. The day before the draft, the Nets made the biggest trade of their rebuild. They traded the 27th overall pick(from the Celtics) and Brook Lopez to the Lakers for Timofey Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell. Mozgov was(and still is)super overpaid and is making 16 million a season(fun fact: he didn’t appear in a single game this season). But the real gem of this trade was D’Angelo Russell. After being labeled as immature in LA, Russell has shined in Brooklyn. He made his 1st All-Star appearance last season and led the Nets to the playoffs averaging 21 and 7. D’Angelo Russell is the star Brooklyn was looking for under Billy Kong’s entire regime, and they didn’t have to trade 4 1sts for him!
Oh yeah, let’s not forget, remember that pick from Washington? That ended up becoming Jarrett Allen. Allen has become one of the best shot blockers in the NBA, as he blocked a few big names in the NBA, such as LeBron James, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Giannis Antetokoumpo and Anthony Davis. He’s going to be the Nets starting center for a long time.
In the 2017 Offseason, the Nets made no notable signings. The only thing they did do was take on bad contracts with assets. They took on Demmare Carroll and Allen Crabbe. Carroll was traded to the Nets with a 2018 1st and 2018 2nd for Justin Hamilton, who was waived. Carroll signed with the Raptors in 2015 after being a starter on the infamous 4 All-Star Hawks team. However, in Toronto, he was not performing to his 14 million price tag. Once he got traded to the Nets, he immediately had a career year averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds while being a regular starter for the Nets. This past season, he was a good backup for the Nets with his hustle and defense. He should get a decent payday from a team this summer.
As for Allen Crabbe, the Nets taking on his contract wasn’t as good. He’s making 18.5 million for next season, and unless they trade him, they can’t have 2 max slots. Crabbe’s 1st season in Brooklyn, like Carroll’s, was a career year. He averaged 13 points and broke the Nets record for most 3-pointers made in a season and became the Nets top 3PT shooter. This past season, he fell off a cliff. He missed 2 months from “knee soreness” and has struggled lately.
The next season, the Nets saw a lot of guys breaking out, such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Allen Crabbe, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Hollis-Jefferson blossomed into a good defender that season. The former 23rd overall pick from Billy King’s regime, he was one of those all around players who did a little bit of everything(except shooting). They also took another chance on young guys, trading for Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas, which didn’t amount to much.
The Nets went 28-54, and were awarded with the 8th pick, which they had to give to Cleveland. However, they still had the Raptors 1st and 2nd round picks. With the 29th pick, they drafted Dzana Musa who hasn’t done much in his NBA career, and Rodions Kurucs, who has become the Nets regular starting PF. He plays with a lot of energy and hustle, and once he gets a good jumper, he’ll be a starter on a playoff team.
The Nets made a couple minor trades that offseason, but they were helpful. They traded Timofey Mozgov and 2 seconds for Dwight Howard’s expiring deal, who they waived(this gave them significant money in the summer of 2019), traded Jeremy Lin and 3 seconds to the Hawks(so they can take on Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur), traded for Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur(which netted them a 1st), then traded Arthur to the Suns for Jared Dudley(which netted them a 2nd). All of those trades were basically to get draft picks and cap space, but cap space is pretty important.
The Nets also made some FA signing as well. They resigned Joe Harris for 2 more years and signed Ed Davis and Shabbaz Napier. Napier was decent filling in the backup PG role when Dinwiddie got hurt this season, and Davis is a very good hustle rebounder and probably one of the best rebounding bench players.
The Nets, this season, were very fun to watch. I’m very happy, that after years and years of being bottom feeders, the Nets have finally become a playoff team. Sean Marks managed to rebuild this team with no draft picks at all, having to sign G-league guys and hoping for the best. Even though they lost to Philly in the playoffs, hopefully they can sign somebody good(Kyrie👀)to help them be a contender for the years to come.